Director tells trustees a non-decision on the location of a new administration building is not an option.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 6th, 2018



Halton District school board Director of Education Stuart Miller told board trustees Wednesday evening that he was pulling his report on a new administration building from the agenda.

He has moved to a plan B – and he isn’t at all certain what that plan will be.

Miller pulls the report Apr 4-2018

Director of Education Stuart Miller telling the Halton District trustees that he is pulling his administration building report from the agenda.

Miller has explained to the trustees he is accountable to the trustees and has a duty to advise them on what is needed to deliver the program to students. A new administration building is one of the things he needs and for the most part the 11 trustees agree with him. What they don’t seem to be able to agree on is where that building should be located.

Trustees Danielli, Amos, Harvey Hope and Collard were prepared to ask that debate on a new building be deferred until there was more information available.

Harvey Hope talked of the traffic challenges in getting to the Board offices in Burlington. Others pointed out that the bulk of the student population is no longer in Burlington; it is north east of the city. They seemed to feel that the administration offices should be closer to the bulk of the student population.

Miller doesn’t disagree with that position but points to the hard realities he has to deal with. The Board owns the land the current site is located on along with a large piece of land immediately south of the current structure and east of M.M. Robinson high school.

street view of the site

Intersection of Upper Middle Road and Guelph Line – a suggested location for a new administration building. Land is owned by the school board.

Buying land for a new building would be prohibitively expensive and the board doesn’t’ have anywhere near enough in its reserve funds to buy new land and construct a new building.

In his initial report to the trustees Miller pointed out to them that a report from a real estate company made it clear that there really wasn’t anything available in the way of the kind of land needed anywhere in the Region.

The trustees have told Miller to look harder.

It is hard to imagine a real estate company passing up a chance to find an appropriate piece of property and then negotiate the purchase of the land. If it was out there – would they not have found it?

Miller is up against a second reality. The building the Board administration is in now has to be made AODA compliant by 2025 – and that will be very expensive. Added to that – the cost of making the space on New Street AODA compliant adds to his woes.

Miller points out that this issue has been before the trustees since 2005. More than 13 years. He told the trustees on Wednesday that a “non-decision is not an option” and added that at some point the board has to make a decision.

Miller said that he would bring the report back sometime in 2019 – in January or February. Milton trustee Danielli noted that Miller might be dealing with a significantly different board after the October municipal election.

Perhaps those trustees who have been sitting on their hands since 2005 and done nothing about this problem will choose to end their careers as trustees or have the public bring those careers to an end.

One of the critical jobs these trustees have is to be financially prudent; there is enough money in the reserve fund to pay for the construction of a new administration building on and the board owns in Burlington.

Miller also added that it will take three to five years to get all the permissions and permits in place before construction could begin and that AODA date of 2025 is not that far off.

aerial of site

A new board administration building could be located at the north west intersection of Upper Middle and Guelph Line.

Miller has said that he will “explore some other geographical areas, and be back at the Board probably early in the New Year and they will have to decide if they want a new building or renovating this one.”

Miller also pointed out that the public needs to know what the board of education is up against.

Time for the trustees to get on with the job they were elected to do.


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11 comments to Director tells trustees a non-decision on the location of a new administration building is not an option.

  • Luke

    For starters; “I have absolutely no skin in this game.”

    “Harvey Hope talked of the traffic challenges in getting to the Board offices in Burlington.”
    Traffic challenges? Really? the existing building is perhaps 1 mile from the QEW/403 and even closer to the 407/Dundas exit.
    Traffic a bother, try transit. It’s better for the Environment, less expensive than a car and sets a good example for the “Kiddiewinkies” that you’re supposed to shaping and modelling as future “Productive good citizen’s.” Gotta walk the walk if you want to talk the talk, no?
    Inadequate real estate perhaps the existing property is too small to build “Stuart’s Palace” as some sort of sprawling campus, perhaps a smaller footprint and going up a few more floors? What is wrong with the proximity to the one of two public high schools that remain in north Burlington? Are the students deplorable or just too close for comfort?

    What about leasing some empty retail space at either the Burlington or Mapleview shopping centres? Plenty of parking, AODA compliant and a clean slate to build within.
    Not many executive offices have Escalators leading up to them Stu. Think “Unique.”
    If the old Sears property hasn’t got enough space or isn’t close enough to mass transit for the liking of some of the employees they should think about finding gainful employment closer to their homes in Toronto Rosedale (Stuart Miller).
    The crazy idea would be to perhaps move to live closer to your workplace and then you might have some real investment in the community that provides your living and lifestyle. It isn’t as though Burlington is some sort of Hick, backwater. We have an art gallery, performing arts centre and posh museums and a hospital, don’t forget a Pier shaped like an “S”. What other community can make such claims? That’s right, none.

    Five years to get permits and permissions in place? Perhaps Stuart should try some; “Interaction, engagement, cross-connecting, networking or Intersectionality,” with ADI developments or any other developer that seems to be able to navigate these permits and permissions in far less time?
    You’re welcome.

    Editor’s note: Stuart Miller, Director of Education does not live in Rosedale’ he lives in the High Park neighbourhood of Toronto -on the west side of the city. Also, the Education Act impacts any recommendation Miller can put forward. The decision to do anything is made by the trustees – they instruct the administration.

  • John Paul

    Let me guess, the people posting on here are the angry Pearson and Bateman parents? The spin put out by these parents is incredible. All Miller said was eventually they will have to make a decision because they have to be AODA compliant by 2025. It’s not arrogant at all. He’s simply stating a fact. The trustees understand that very well and it was a very amicable discussion. The issue is the location so they’re going to look at other site options. Talk about a non-story, unreasonable spin and sensationalism. You all feed off each other and bad mouth these trustees and staff to no end. They are all doing a great job to anyone without a biased angry view.

    Editor’s note: Mr. Paul is quite right, however it has to be noted that the trustees have been sitting on this need for more than 13 years.

    • Stephen White

      So to answer your question….I am not a parent, I do not have kids in either Pearson or Bateman, and I don’t have a vested interest in this issue other than the fact that, as a taxpayer and public school supporter, I resent monies being spent for something without the necessary due diligence first being undertaken.

      Here is the essential point. This Board, and this Director of Education, have reached the conclusion they need new offices without proper and due consideration to other viable alternatives, namely:

      1) leasing space in existing or proposed new business complexes on a long-term lease;
      2) re-allocating staff who are not customer facing to permit them to work from home arrangement;
      3) retrofitting the existing premises;
      4) re-allocating staff to some of the facilities they are closing, namely, Pearson and Bateman.

      Using AODA as an excuse to build a new facility is a total crock. Read the Halton Board’s Facilities Accessibility Plan, then check out the costs to retrofit high schools in Burlington detailed on page 5 of the Consultant’s Report:

      Retrofitting every high school in Burlington to become AODA compliant comes in at $12M. I seriously doubt it would cost that amount to retrofit the existing building, but presuming for a moment it did, then lease space in an AODA premises.

      Those of us who live and work in the real world know for a fact that businesses do not have the luxury anymore of being able to house all their staff under one roof. Furthermore, most major businesses do not own their premises. None of the five major chartered banks in Canada own their head office premises. Why? Because it is cheaper and least complicated to lease space. Furthermore, technology has evolved to the point where people can communicate virtually through email, text, teleconferencing, etc.

      There are viable alternatives, and this Board and these trustees need to seriously re-examine them. Unfortunately, what this issue really highlights is a serious lack of business acumen among both the Board and trustees. The Board exist in a vacuum and profoundly entitled, and these trustees lack the ability to speak truth to power to challenge prevailing assumptions.

      • John Paul

        Stephen, you assume that the board has not already looked into these options. You think you know better than the staff professionals, make sweeping accusations of incompetence and personal attacks, yet you call the director arrogant. You may not be a Pearson or Bateman resident but your one of the usual suspects constantly attacking and I know several of the other commenters are

        • Stephen White

          John Paul: Just because a taxpayer raises a serious question or issue does not make it a personal attack. The challenge you have is that anytime someone challenges the status quo, or asks a probing question, you take umbrage, and you put up this righteous rebuttal. You are the one who made the fallacious and inaccurate statement that those of us raising questions were, by inference, Bateman or Pearson parents which is clearly not the case in my situation.

          If these options have, as you suggest, been investigated, then it is incumbent on the Board officials to put forward the materials and supporting documentation to prove it. What you also don’t know is that separately a number of us have also been raising this issue with our local trustees. Do you see any of them commenting on this website, or in the Burlington Post, or providing supporting documentation to show they have considered other options? No.

          Enough said.

  • P Casey

    Why is it that the needs of students in the high schools in Halton are always being put in second place.

    Time for a new director and new trustees!!!!!

  • Sharon

    Well said George!

    I think Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville should also think about whether they want their current Trustees reelected. Gray, Danelli, Graves, Harvey Hope, Oliver, Ehl Harrison all voted to close 2 Burlington High Schools. They can do it on their home turf as well. And they all have been fiscally irresponsible with Halton taxpayer money.

  • George

    Well said Marshall, Stephen and Sharon,

    If you listen to the HDSB website Director Miller assigns the delay due to indecision regarding location. I do not believe this is the main reason.

    I believe the response of the public through the gazette article regarding building a $32 Million facility and closing 2 Burlington high schools within short time span has finally put the fear of reprisal into the HDSB perspective.

    It is time to change all Halton School Board Trustees with the next election except for one. Remember it was Trustees Reynolds, Grebenc and Papin that voted to close Burlington high schools. It was only Trustee Collard that put up an admirable fight to keep Burlington high schools open.

    We need to remember the Quebec licence plate statement of “Je Me Souviens” and remember to vote out of office trustees Reynolds, Grebenc and Papin for their failure to protect Burlington high schools and support the overcrowding of Frank J Hayden with 12 portables with plans to move in six more portables.

    It has been suggested through comments several times in the Gazette that the portables should be moved to the HDSB Offices (JW Singleton) on Guelph Line to house the needs of the HDSB and trustees.

    Lets all turn out on October 22, 2018 to rid our-selves of treacherous, treasonous and useless trustee behaviours towards the citizens of Burlington.

  • Sharon

    Some interesting questions are surfacing where the surplus money came from.

    I agree with Stephen White its time that Miller looks for new employment and its time we have Trustees that do what they are elected to do listen to the taxpayers of Halton this bunch but 1 did nothing but. Hopefully, they can’t do much more damage before October when hopefully the citizens of Halton will have enough sense to oust the bunch of them.

  • Stephen White

    Unbelievable arrogance on the part of Stuart Miller. Either take a cue from the comments and opposition posted on the Burlington Gazette on this issue or start looking for new employment.

    As for the trustees here’s a message: grow some guts, and start standing up for the taxpayers of Halton Region. Otherwise, you folks can be replaced too.

  • Marshall

    Perhaps a new set of trustees in November is the best option. I feel that they let Burlington down with the school closures and it appears that they can’t make up their minds on the new building either.